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2009 construction valuation third lowest during the past 10 years

WILLMAR -- The value of construction permits for all homes, apartment buildings and commercial and industrial buildings issued in Willmar in 2009 was the third lowest during the past 10 years, according to a recap of construction activity released by Bruce Peterson, director of city planning and development services.

But 2009's $30,922,475 valuation is skewed by $3,664,756 in housing permits issued at the tail end of 2009 for the Westwind low-income housing project in southwest Willmar. None of the homes has been built so far.

Three months ago, the city prepared 14 duplex building permits for 28 residential units planned by Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership for the Westwind project, but the permits were not paid for until the last day of 2009. The housing units had a combined value of $3,664,756.

Peterson did not know why the Housing Partnership waited until the end of the year to pick up the permits.

"We'll see those valuations actually constructed in 2010,'' he said.

During the period from 2000 through 2009, valuations topped out at $70,002,629 in 2008, but that figure includes more than $40 million for construction of the city's new wastewater treatment plant.

"A major public works project like that, although it is covered by the code, is somewhat of an anomaly,'' said Peterson. "I think if you want to look at true economic and local construction activity, you have to factor out those big public works projects.''

The low valuation for the period was $15,474,995 in 2000. The second lowest was $29,203,778 in 2001. Valuation in 2007 was $33,722,627.

Although 2009's valuation was the third lowest, Peterson said the total is considerably higher than he'd estimated when 2009 budgets were prepared and 2009 construction estimates were projected.

"It's certainly not where it has been and it's not where we want to see it, but all in all given the external economic forces, I think we had a pretty good year,'' he said.

Peterson reported the valuation figures to the City Council's Community Development Committee on Thursday afternoon.

The information will be reported to the council at the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building.

The council will also receive reports from the Finance Committee, Public Works/Safety Committee, and Labor Relations Committee. The council will consider a temporary on-sale liquor license for the Fraternal Order of Eagles and will take public comments during the open forum.

Mayor Les Heitke will present the state of the city address, and he will proclaim the week of Feb. 22-26, 2010, as School Board Recognition Week.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150